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Summer Anime 2019 Staff Viewer’s Guide

Summer is bringing more than just sweltering temperatures and more excuses to get outside, it’s also bringing a plethora of hot new anime! This season is jam-packed sizzling shows and as always the GoombaStomp anime team is here to help give you the rundown.



Summer is bringing more than just sweltering temperatures and more excuses to get outside, it’s also bringing a plethora of hot new anime! This season is jam-packed sizzling shows and as always the GoombaStomp anime team is here to help give you the rundown.

(List in no particular order)

Fire Force

Studio: David Production
Director(s): Yuki Yase and Taiki Konno
Main Voice Actor(s): Gakuto Kajiwara (Shinra), Saeko Kamijou (Maki), Aoi Yuuki (Tamaki), Mao Ichimichi (Iris), Yuusuke Kobayashi (Arthur), Kazuya Nakai (Akitaru), Kenichi Suzumura (Takehisa)

One of the least represented careers in anime is undoubtedly firefighting. Atsushi Ohkubo’s unique take on the profession struck a chord with shounen manga fans everywhere, and its recent translation to anime by JoJo series vets David Productions is no less impressive. 

The plot is classic shounen with a dash of relatability. Fire Force takes place in a future where people have started spontaneously combusting and turning into flame creatures known as “Infernals.” No one knows how or why this phenomenon began, and everyone lives in fear of it happening to them or their loved ones at any time. To combat this new threat, special fire forces have been established to quell Infernals and keep the public safe.

Shinra, the main protagonist, is a third-generation pyrokinetic (a manipulator of fire) who opens the show by finally joining one of these elite firefighting teams. Shunned since he was little for grinning devilishly whenever he becomes nervous (and for other reasons I won’t spoil here), Shinra has a lot to prove to himself and anyone who used to know him. 

Fire Force moves between lighthearted firehouse shenanigans, heartfelt introspection, and beautifully-animated firefights with grace. Shinra’s tragic backstory never fully leaves the viewer’s mind, but the strong-yet-airheaded Maki and the childlike rivalry between Shinra and fellow new recruit Arthur give the show a fun comedic spin. The anime’s future might be up in the air at the moment, but what little we’ve seen has already shown great promise. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)

Dr. Stone

Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director(s): Shinya Iino
Voice Actors: Yuusuke Kobayashi (Senku), Makoto Furukawa (Taiju), Kana Ichinose (Yuzuriha)

I was fully prepared, unreasonably so, to hate Dr. Stone. The combination of Crunchyroll’s unusually aggressive advertising push for it and the main protagonist having the most punchable face in recent anime history rubbed me the wrong way even before knowing what the show is about. While Senku still has the most punchable face, I’m glad to say that Dr. Stone does somewhat live up to the hype.

An unknown phenomenon one day instantly turns all of humanity on Earth to stone. Millenia later, high schoolers Taiju and Senku are freed from their petrified prisons and find themselves in a land reclaimed by nature. Senku, being a super-genius, and Taiju, being a musclehead, team up to rebuild society.

It’s a setup rife with possibilities and it’s unclear as to what direction the story will go in yet. That’s made all the more so with how Dr. Stone presents itself as a shounen battle series without actually being one. Every character has some over-the-top, signature trait that would make them fit right at home in something like Hunter x Hunter. That makes them endearing to watch, though, which is important since the characters you see are literally all the characters in the entire show.

Science nerds will also be pleased, particularly chemists and physicists, as the principals Senku utilizes to rebuild society are all grounded in reality. There are some creative liberties taken here and there but for the most part it’s solid science.

Dr. Stone may not be the second coming of all that is holy for anime like Crunchyroll is playing it up to be, but it’s still a greatly entertaining adventure that has me wondering what will happen next. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).

How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazuki
Voice Actors: Ai Fairouz (Sakura), Sora Amamiya (Akemi), Kaito Ishikawa (Machio)

One of my favorite jokes to come out of Japan is muscular macho manliness. Whether it’s Jojo’s ridiculously excessive depiction of the male physique or the popularity of Billy “Aniki” Herrington, Japan has a fascination with bodybuilding that straddles the line between hilarity and genuine respect. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is a show built around that entire philosophy.

Hibiki Sakura, the main character of Dumbbells, has gained weight thanks to her poor diet and excessive eating habits. When confronted with the reality of her health, she reluctantly signs up at the nearby Silverman Gym. Here she meets a fellow classmate, Akemi Soryuin, who has also joined; together they work under their new trainer, Naruzo Machio. Thanks to both Akemi and Naruzo’s help, Hibiki vows to work hard and get her body in shape.

In the vein of Cells at Work! or Shokugeki no Soma, Dumbbells takes a specific topic and dives deep into the subject matter. While the show is ostensibly about “cute girls doing cute things”, Dumbbells manages to give weightlifting and exercise a good amount of respect. The characters make a point of exhibiting proper form and technique, which help both Hibiki and the viewer wrap their head around the work involved. 

Of course, as a CGDCT kind of show, Dumbbells is chock full of, well, cute girls. All of the characters are fun and bring their own little unique oddities to the gym. If you’ve spent time working out and have gone through the pains a diet change or muscle soreness, then Dumbbells will give you a good chuckle as it reminds you to hit them gains! (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation

A Certain Scientific Accelerator

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Nobuharu Kamanaka
Voice Actors: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Accelerator), Rina Hidaka (Last Order)

A testament to the importance of character, A Certain Scientific Accelerator proves how vital a decent main man is. Where A Certain Magical Index is spearheaded by Touma, a protagonist with all the likeability of Hitler’s wanking sock, Accelerator fits a more engaging anti-hero mold. Like A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Scientific Accelerator works due to its utilization of (mostly) likable characters.

Accelerator’s been through the wringer, what with getting shot in the head and rescuing weird little clone girl Last Order. Enter Disciplinary Action, an antagonistic organization that threatens Accelerator and Last Order, our unlikely pairing of oddballs.

One’s mileage with A Certain Scientific Accelerator is relative to their tolerance for the ambitious but scattershot storytelling of this universe. If (like me) they find it flimsy and self-indulgent, A Certain Scientific Accelerator will come up short. But those more partial to the characteristics of this lofty series will find an abundance of enjoyment from the plight of Moody McGrumpo, the white-haired dude with a teen angst complex. (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note

Studio: TROYCA
Director: Makoto Katou
Voice Actors: Daisuke Namikawa (Lord El-Melloi II), Reina Ueda (Gray), Inori Minase (Reines)

As the latest anime entry in the notorious Fate franchise, Case Files breaks tradition by being the first main timeline series to not have “Fate” in its name. It’s also the first to not center around a Holy Grail War and Servants, but instead on the inner workings of the mage society we only caught glimpses of through other series.

If that last paragraph sounded like something out of an esoteric tome then this probably isn’t a show for you. While Case Files is a clean break from the usual formula, it is still deeply rooted in Fate lore, particularly Fate/Zero, and thus doesn’t stop to explain many crucial concepts of the world such as the Root and Bounded Fields.

Those who are into Fate, for better or worse, will find Case Files a welcome departure, albeit a frenetic one. Waver turned Lord El-Melloi II now teaches Modern Magecraft lessons at the London Clocktower. While there he gets caught up in various magic-related incidents whereupon he uses his keen acumen to solve them.

Each episode so far has contained one “case” for El-Melloi to solve. The mere existence of magic making almost anything possible take the focus of the “howdunit” and shifts it onto the “whydunit” and that is what the viewer is asked to question as our instructor goes about his investigations. These episodes felt a bit rushed but hints of the overarching story beginning hopefully mean better pacing going forward.

Like any good Fate anime, the presentation is stellar with dazzling animation and mystifying music to complement its arcane nature. It’s just a shame newcomers won’t be able to fully enjoy it. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended (For Fate fans)
Not Recommended (For newcomers)

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)

Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Hideki Tachibana
Voice Actors: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Bell), Inori Minase (Hestia)

Hideki Tachibana and J.C. Staff had a lot to live up to following the four-year-long hiatus of the hyper-popular Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (more affectionately known as DanMachi). 2017’s Sword Oratoria spin-off was fun enough, but it felt paltry compared to the ambition of season one. Luckily, DanMachi’s return to the small screen truly feels like it never left. 

In fact, it’s startling just how quickly the new season hits the ground running. High off nearing Level 3 and being able to routinely traverse the middle stages of the dungeon, Bell refuses to back down when a member of a rival familia insults Hestia in a pub. Lines are crossed, a fight ensues, and before he knows it, Bell is suddenly in the sights of the spiteful (and incredibly creepy) god Apollo. 

The events of the first couple episodes set the stage for several major shakeups. How far will Apollo go to nab Bell for himself? What’ll become of Hestia and Bell’s tiny familia? And does Ais actually have more than a passing interest in our hero? Between the events that set all these questions into motion, there’s hardly any time wasted on reintroducing characters. There’s a handy “Episode 0” refresher, but you’ll definitely need to go back and re-watch season one to familiarize yourself with this vast cast once again. 

That said, the flashy battle scenes, awkward romances, and strong alliances forged from last season are all back in full force here. Any fans who’ve been waiting for years to see what happens to this colorful cast next are sure to be satisfied.  (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended.

Watch on Crunchyroll.

Vinland Saga

Studio: Wit Studio
Director: Shuuhei Yabuta
Voice Actors: Shizuka Ishigama (Thorfinn), Naoya Uchida (Askeladd), Kenichiro Matsuda (Thors)

While anime and manga love to take Norse mythology and spin it on its head for various purposes, vikings have seen little such attention. That changes with Vinland Saga, which has thus far shown to be an enthralling story set do Ragnarok proud.

The first thing that immediately jumps out about the show is the fluid animation. Wit Studio’s experience animating the omnidirectional battles of Attack on Titan are put on full display in an opening battle sequence that employs numerous dynamic camera angles and long cuts. It’s easily the most stunning visual spectacle of the season so far and sets the stage for the kind of world we’re about to step foot in.

That world is one of survival, where even a semblance of peace titters on a precarious balance. The heroic warrior Thors escaped the battlefield to run away and raise his family in peace. His past eventually catches up to him, though, and he finds himself and his six year old son, Thorfinn, entangled in a war he doesn’t want to fight.

While Thorfinn is presented to be the protagonist of the series, the focus of the story is still on his father. He is the lynch pin that keeps everything from falling apart and there is a palpable sense of dread of something happening to him. These first three episodes have been an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop but the characters and world are already so well developed it’s difficult to not already feel pulled into the great expanse. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

Magical Sempai

Studio: Liden Films
Director: Fumiaki Usui
Voice Actors: Kaede Hondo (Assistant), Aoi Ichikawa (Sempai)

Every season of anime inevitably has to have their cheesecake show, and Magical Sempai is this one’s. Clocking in at a little over twelve minutes, it wastes no time in getting to the real reason you’re watching this show: degeneracy.

Based on an existing gag manga, Magical Sempai follows the titular Senpai as she drags her unfortunate Assistant into joining her Magic Club at school. There’s just one thing: she absolutely sucks at it. She gets stage fright, she’s easily embarrassed, is extremely clumsy, and not terribly bright. Her antics oftentimes get her into sticky situations (figuratively and literally), much to the enjoyment of her Assistant (and the audience). This involves such predicaments as Senpai getting herself wrapped up in bondage, locking herself in a box, and losing all of her clothes in public.

There’s not much to the premise of Magical Sempai, but for a gag show there doesn’t really need to be. Much like Ueno-san of last winter’s season, Magical Sempai is a simple, straightforward show that gives you exactly what it says on the tin. The characters are fun, the jokes are cute, and the cheesecake is extremely cheesy. If you like slapstick gags and over-the-top fanservice, Magical Sempai is good for a quick laugh and some eyecandy. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended (if you’re into that kinda stuff)

Watch on Crunchyroll.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest

Studio: Asread, White Fox
Director: Kinji yoshimoto
Voice Actors: Toshinari Fukamachi (Hajime), Yuuki Kuwahara (Yue)

One of the many isekai shows this season, Arifureta is a classic betrayal story mixed with power fantasy. Hajime and his classmates have been summoned to another world with MMO like elements. While exploring an underground labyrinth Hajime is betrayed by a jealous classmate causing him to fall down to the lower levels of the abyss where he has to fend for himself.

The story is about as by-the-books as an isekai can get with Hajime quickly growing stronger and gaining new powers by consuming the monsters he defeats. Arifureta’s one distinguishing trait is its tone which is filled with enough edge to make a razor blade blush. Hajime’s abrasive attitude is jarring and borders on unlikeable with his weapon of choice being guns adding to his excessive aesthetic.

This anime is dark, literally, with all three episodes taking place in the cavernous labyrinth; there isn’t a whole lot that’s eye-catching. Well, perhaps some of the monsters are eye-catching, but for the wrong reasons as they are made with some of the most atrocious use of CGI in recent memory.

There are worse isekai out there and at the very least I am interested to see just how overpowered Hajime becomes but if your time is limited, you can do better than Arifureta. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation

If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord

Studio: Maho Film
Director: Takeyuki Yanase
Voice Actors: Kanon Takao (Latina), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Dale)

There are few anime that perfectly telegraph their core appeal within the first five minutes as well as If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord does. The show takes place in an otherworldly realm where those able to use magic are employed by the nobility to defend humanity against demonic attacks. One of the nation’s top adventurers, Dale, is finishing a job when he comes across a small devil child named Latina in the woods. Sensing that she’s defenseless and alone, Dale decides to bring her back to town and look after her for the time being. 

Unlike Poco’s Udon World or Sweetness and Lightening—both of which center around single father figures taking care of young children—the focus here is less on the bond between Dale and Latina and more on everyone’s infatuation with Latina herself. She’s cloyingly sweet to anyone she meets, always tries her best, and manages to delight even the most hardened adventurers. Dale quickly becomes a vessel that channels how the audience is expected to feel about the girl; he’s constantly overwhelmed by her cuteness, can’t stand to spend a moment away from her, and cries tears of joy whenever she misses him or proudly shows him what she’s accomplished for the day. 

Despite how If It’s for My Daughter is clearly pandering to a certain demographic, it’s hard to deny that it’s well-executed. Getting to see Latina develop her language and cooking skills before my eyes was some of the most lazily pleasant time I’ve spent watching an anime this year. Just know what you’re getting into first! (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended (for a very specific audience)

Watch on Crunchyroll

Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Voice Actors: Ai Kayano (Mamako)

Tis the season for show titles that take up the majority of Twitter’s character limit on their own, with Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? taking the cake. 

This show is pandering to the highest degree but at the same time, it’s very upfront about what it is. If the concept of a high school boy getting sucked into a game world with his over doting mother — who is literally named Mamko — that looks like she could be 16 and is the most overpowered being in the world doesn’t appeal to you, then this show is probably going to do little to change your mind.

It’s nonsensical, it’s ludicrous, and it’s oh so ecchi. If you’re not immediately turned off by the incestuous nature of the premise, though, then you’ll find moments of decent to funny self-aware comedy. Our wayward son protagonist plays an entertaining straight man and the show doesn’t miss a moment to poke fun at the isekai genre as a whole.

The show’s audience is clear. If you’re part of that audience, have fun. If you’re not part of it, then move right along. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: You know who you are

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation

O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Studio: Lay-duce
Director: Masahiro Ando, Takurō Tsukada
Voice Actors: Hiyori Kono, Chika Anzai, Momo Asakura, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Sumire Uesaka

Teenagehood is awkward, thanks in large part to the fact that teenagers are boiling pots of hormones. O Maidens in Your Savage Season captures this period of adolescence from the perspective of a high school literature club and the five young girls that make it up. The central ideas behind the show are that of sex and sexuality, and it approaches them by placing them in context of main cast’s own personal dilemmas.

While the show centers around Kazusa Onodera, a meek young girl who discovers she’s in love with her childhood friend, O Maidens makes a point to establish its ensemble cast. It’s certainly a slow burn, as the first few episodes take the time to establish character personalities and future plot threads.

However, from the very beginning the show’s writing does an excellent job of helping it to stand out. Mari Okada, a prolific writer known for such works as Maquia and Anohana, grounds the cast in an utterly down-to-earth way that reminds you of what it felt like to be a teenager, unsure of yourself and your developing emotions.

O Maidens isn’t all drama, thankfully. There are some wonderful bits of comedy and clever wordplay that help to break the mood and give the show an endearing charm. The painful ignorance of the characters provides both heartfelt character drama and genuine laughter. O Maidens is a show where you want these girls to succeed, but you absolutely love seeing them flub and fluster along the way. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on VRV

The Ones Within

Studio: Silver Link.
Director: Shin Oonuma
Voice Actors: Daiki Yamashita (Akatsuki), Akari Kito (Karin), Kaori Nazuka (Yuzu)

In what could be described as a strange mix of Zero Escape, Danganronpa, and The World Ends With You all rolled up into one, The Ones Within aptly suffers from a bit of identity crisis. Its concept of trapping prominent Let’s Players in another world of some sort and streaming their every action to attract viewers is reasonable enough on paper, but a number of factors prevent the show from being anything more than occasional amusement.

While the show is meant to be a showcase of Let’s Players, it does very little to push forward the fact that these people are anything but eccentric individuals. These eccentrics fall into tired archetypes that do little to encourage emotional investment into them. This is accentuated by the odd pacing of the episodes in order to fit one Let’s Play challenge each. The rushed pacing results punchlines and climaxes to fall flat, especially considering the show can’t decide on what kind of tone it wants yet.

Not even the clearly Monokuma inspired alpaca-headed instigator for the games can save this show from being unmemorable at best and boring at worst. This is an easy pass this season. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.

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Revoked Revenge: Analyzing One of ‘Hunter x Hunter’s’ Most Emotional Scenes

Though Hunter x Hunter is full of striking moments, “Revenge x Recovery” flexes the full strength of the show’s stellar scenario writing.



(Spoiler Warning: The following text contains spoilers for the 2011 Hunter x Hunter Remake. Read at your own risk.)

It’s all too often that the shounen genre gets dismissed for being entirely comprised of childish power fantasies and series you should eventually grow out of. While a youthful sense of adventure and optimism is indeed a core part of the genre’s appeal, it’s also much more than that. The best of shounen tells tales that stick with viewers forever, introduces characters that they can relate to and aspire to be like, and presents dilemmas that can’t just be laughed or punched away.

The 116th episode of Hunter x Hunter 2011, “Revenge x Recovery,” exemplifies this perfectly. The scene (particularly in the second half of the episode) is one of incredible character development and viewer confliction.

Our lovable hero, Gon, has waited months to exact revenge on Pitou for Kite’s death and torturous reconfiguration into a fighting puppet. Usually cheerful and peppy, Gon hasn’t expressed a hint of happiness since beginning the raid of the Chimera Ant king’s palace. All that’s present is a cold, steely determination and unyielding anger. Pitou has to pay…no matter what it takes.

The Fall and Rebirth of Pitou

Gon’s anger isn’t unfounded. For the entire Chimera Ant arc we’ve been conditioned to fear and absolutely despise Pitou. Aside from viciously killing Kite, Pitou has played an instrumental role in planning the mass genocide of the people of East Gorteau. Seemingly only second in power to the king himself, the sheer maliciousness of its Nen made Knov (an elite Hunter on the level of Morel) have a mental breakdown, and made Netero himself doubt his capabilities.

That’s what makes Pitou’s transformation so shocking.

Instead of being greeted by Pitou’s usual coldhearted, bloodthirsty, murderous self, something has changed in it since they last met. It’s completely focused on healing Komugi, the one person who has become incredibly dear to the king. After finding her wounded at the start of the raid, he personally entrusted Pitou with restoring Komugi’s life. Not only did this bring Pitou to tears, but it set Pitou’s priorities firmly in place: put Komugi first and protect her at all costs.

Pitou knew as soon as Gon walked in the room that it was facing an immense danger, but it was already in the process of healing Komugi. Because it couldn’t fight with any hope of winning during the operation (healing requires all of its Nen), Pitou had to make a choice: leave the girl to die, or leave itself helpless. In that moment, bearing the task of healing the very person that the king cared for above all else, Pitou chose to prostrate itself and beg the boys to wait.

The imagery of seeing Pitou laying its hands outstretched in honest concession — this character that was revered since the start of the arc as the most dangerous, bloodthirsty Chimera Ant next to the king himself — is as jarring for the viewer as it is for Gon, who walked in ready to fight for his life. Arguably the most feared character in Hunter x Hunter up to that point is, for once, showing fear itself. Not fear for its own life, but fear for failing in its mission to protect the girl.

It’d be frustrating if this sudden dismantlement of a major villain served no purpose, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We get a distinct sense that this willingness to throw away its life isn’t just on the biological level of it being faithful to the king, but more so because it wants to see the king be happy. Compared to when Pitou nonchalantly shrugged off the queen’s death dozens of episodes earlier, the fact that it’s literally willing to have every non-essential bone in its body broken to secure the king’s happiness feels like a clear emotional evolution.

Somewhere along the way of seeing how much the king cared for this fragile little human, Pitou began to gain some slivers of humanity as well. What’s more, the act of breaking its own arm as a way to prove its sincerity is a direct parallel to when the king tore off his arm to apologize for trying to cheat Komugi out of a win at gungi. Lessons learned by the king clearly haven’t gone unnoticed.

Gon’s Justified Fury

At this point, the viewer has seen Gon grow over the course of Hunter x Hunter from a naive kid with exceptional physical ability to a bonafide threat. Through it all, though, he’s always been a somewhat tropey “justice above all” main character with a heart of gold. He refuses to let the weak be attacked and won’t allow anyone to suffer — even if they deserve it. His refusal to kill the Bombers at the end of the Greed Island arc is an acute reminder of this.

Suddenly, however, we’re presented with a Gon that feels equal parts familiar and terrifying. This Gon is absolutely consumed by rage and without pity. The fact that Pitou is showing mercy to another human when it attacked Kite without hesitation only fuels the hatred that he’s been harboring for months. This thing doesn’t deserve his sympathy. So what if a third party got injured during our attack? What makes her life more valuable than Kite’s?

As the viewer, we’re keenly aware of Gon’s ear-splitting frustration. It’s ultimately a battle of ideals. What happens when a murderous monster begs for mercy? What happens when your object of so much hatred is caught acting completely selflessly to help someone they love? How can you push the thirst for avenging a loved one’s life aside in respect for the killer’s righteous wishes?

hunter x hunter

We learn that Gon isn’t yet strong enough to deal with this impossible dilemma on his own. His usually unwavering sense of right and wrong that we’ve seen throughout Hunter x Hunter has been warped, and he’s clearly lost sight of the mission’s goal. Right when he’s about to snap, it’s only by way of Killua that Gon is able to hold himself back.

It’s then that Gon hones in on what we’ve been observing the whole episode: how drastically different their reactions to this situation are from one another. Gon is (as always) wearing his emotions on his sleeve, and instantly became engulfed in his rage towards Kite’s killer. Meanwhile, Killua stood back and calmly evaluated the scene before their eyes.

Killua’s approach reflects his desensitization to killing and death in general, rather than Kite’s death meaning nothing to him as Gon alludes to. He’s shaken up, but he’s more so worried about Gon getting out of control than avenging anyone. Death is something Killua has witnessed (often by his own hand) for years, and as a reformed assassin, it follows that he wouldn’t get worked up over someone doing what he’s done to countless others.

hunter x hunter

As much as Gon (and, by extension, the viewer) wants Pitou to pay for all it’s done, the more logical course of action is to bring it with them in an attempt to heal Kite. This might be the best chance the boys will ever have of taking out Pitou once and for all, but that was never their real end goal.

It’s heartbreaking to see Gon’s once warm heart turn to ice as he realizes the validity of Killua’s protests. Killua stopped him from acting on his emotions, but he feels the repercussions of that decision in that instant. The pain on Killua’s face as he looks away from his best friend is palpable in a way that only those who’ve been afflicted by similar emotional harm from a loved one can understand. Gon is the one he’s chosen to follow to the ends of the earth, but it’s now unclear how much longer that’ll last.

Hunter x Hunter is a testament to the emotional depth a shounen series can have if enough care is put into cultivating its cast. Not only does “Revenge x Recovery” stand out as a hallmark scene in what’s arguably the show’s best arc, but it also serves as a reminder of how vital meticulous character and scenario writing are. Few have done it as well as Yoshihiro Togashi.

You can watch Hunter x Hunter on Crunchyroll and Netflix.

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Is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: “Hinokami” The Pinnacle of its Genre?

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is of the strongest series airing in 2019, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to ignore it.



(Spoilers ahead for Episode 19 of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.)

With anime aplenty available to be pumped into our eye holes, it’s tough to sift through the masses and unearth a gem. Well I’ll make it easier: watch Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba! Once in a blue moon something special raises the bar, and Episode 19 “Hinokami” does just that. For those new to the show, however, all aboard the context train.

Kimesu no Yaiba

Tanjiro Kamado resides in a cold but cosy mountain home with his family. One day he nips off to a nearby town, only to discover on return his family’s been massacred by a demon. Tanjiro’s world is turned upside down (not in a literal sense, that tsuzumi dude doesn’t appear for another ten episodes), and adding insult to injury, his sister Nezuko’s been turned into a demon. Whilst retaining her human form, she now craves flesh and evaporates in sunlight. Safe to say, T-dog’s having one of those days. Fortunately, Nezuko’s a one in a million demon that sees the benefits of abstinence from bloodthirsty murder. With her love for Tanjiro intact, they set off to cure Nezuko’s ‘demon-itis’.

One training arc later, and Tanjiro’s nifty at felling demons with a sword. And jumping to Episode 19 “Hinokami”, he’s battling his toughest opponent yet: Rui of the Twelve Moons. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has crescendoed towards an inevitable encounter with said upper echelon of demons, from ex-Twelve Moon Kyogai, to Twelve Moon red herring Father, to real actual Twelve Moon Rui. He’s the big boss you don’t see coming, and the threat he poses is evident when he shatters Tanjiro’s sword to smitheries with his slice-y dice-y hecka hard webs. He’s a sadistic bastard, forming ‘family bonds’ on fear by torturing his next of kin. Can Tanjiro best someone so strong?

Kimetsu no Yaiba

Given Rui’s fixation on family bonds, seeing Nezuko hurl herself into harm’s way to protect Tanjiro from a slew of razor sharp webs captivates him. Witnessing Tanjiro and Nezuko’s legitimate family bond, Rui requests for her to be his sister instead, but spells out his intention to indoctrinate her into said kinship through torturous terror, highlighting his reluctance to renounce his forgery of fake bonds. The dynamic shifts, and Tanjiro has another reason to fight: for Nezuko!

Kimetsu no Yaiba Nezuko

The theme of family bonds is a cornerstone of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, but never has it felt more meaningful than here. From Tanjiro and Nezuko recollecting their childhood and parents’ wisdom, to them collaborating to best Rui; the spectacle sees music, narrative, and animation meld in impeccable harmony. It elicits tears for those invested, and that’s a lofty feat for what’s fundamentally an action sequence. It’s poetry in motion, and sheer art of the highest order, bolstered by eye popping visuals courtesy of Ufotable (turns out when they’re not potentially evading tax they’re driving animation quality through the roof).

If you’ve yet to see Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, do yourself a favour and watch from the start, as isolating this scene in a 360p YouTube video will nullify the narrative context (the weight of which contributes tremendously to the emotional impact). And if you have seen it, I only hope your neck isn’t sore from nodding in agreement whilst reading.

Kimetsu no Yaiba

To say it’s exciting to ponder where Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is heading is an understatement and a half. It’s one of the strongest series airing in 2019, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice, anime fan or not, to ignore it.

Watch Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba on Crunchyroll here.

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Anime Ichiban: Brent’s Favorite Ending Themes

Why let opening themes get all the love? Kick back and check out some of the EDs that stand head and shoulders above the rest.



With so many iconic opening themes out there, it can be easy to forget that there’s a wealth of fantastic EDs that are well-worth watching. It might be more tempting than ever to skip endings in the age of binge watching your favorite shows, but there are still a select few that are worth sitting through the credits for. As a follow-up to my list of favorite opening themes from last year, here are my Top 10 all-time favorite ending themes ranked in descending order. Let’s get into it!

10. “Sentimental Crisis”–halca (Kaguya-sama: Love is War, Opening)

Mind games are a core part of Kaguya’s arsenal on the cutthroat romantic battlefield upon which Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes place. In the ED, however, we get a welcome look at what her consciousness is like when she isn’t constantly on guard. What ensues is a surprisingly whimsical wartime adventure that enforces how happy she is to have her close friends by her side.

9. “Waiting in the Rain”–Maaya Sakamoto (The Asterisk War, Opening 1)

Regardless of feelings towards The Asterisk War itself, “Waiting in the Rain” has to be one of the most beautiful ED’s I’ve ever heard. Everything from the soaring strings at the beginning to Maaya Sakamoto’s angelic vocal performance is just stunningly on-point. It’s clear that the visuals didn’t get nearly as much love, however, and the end result is a gorgeous song over decidedly generic (albeit decently pretty) animation. But, you know what? The song is good enough to bring this ED to number nine all by itself.

8. “Spice”–Tokyo Karan Koron (Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Ending 1)

Sometimes the simplest EDs end up being the most enjoyable. The first ending of Food Wars! perfectly encapsulates the lighthearted nature of the show with bright colors, a meal between friends, and a smile-inducing theme from Tokyo Karan Koron. While the ED stays true to the anime’s signature marriage of food and fanservice, it’s the last shot of Soma smiling that always warms my heart.

7. “Hoshi wo Todoreba”–Yuiko Ōhara (Little Witch Academia, Ending 1)

Though less extravagant than some of the other EDs on this list, there’s something about the unassuming charm of “Hoshi wo Todoreba” that makes it feel special. The depictions of daily school life, highlights for each of the first season’s main characters, and even the love shown to some of the anime’s more minor personalities are beautifully done here. It manages to flesh out the bits and bobs of Little Witch Academia that we never get to see, making each scene feel like an absolute treat.

6. “Refrain Boy”–ALL OFF (Mob Psycho 100, Ending 1)


For as much praise as Mob Psycho 100’s OP got upon release (and for good reason), its paint-on-glass animated ED is no slouch either. While Reigen was first depicted as a sketchy con man of sorts, the ending theme works to humanize him and make him out to be an everyman whose world suddenly took a positive turn when he met Mob. Reigen’s affection for Mob is real, and this is a genuine (if gentle) reminder of that.

5. “Colorful”–Miku Sawai (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, Ending 1)

Like “Waiting in the Rain,” “Colorful” is an ED almost entirely carried by the song itself. In fact, it’s surprising that the ED is so typical for an anime as self-aware as Saekano. That said, the art feels warm and welcoming, and the sequence when the song’s chorus comes in is one of the more fun character highlight reels I’ve seen. If you’re as in love with this song as I am, this remix is also definitely worth checking out.

4. “Cinderella Step”–DAOKO (Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, Ending 2)

Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul is one wild ride of an anime. The emotional rollercoaster the viewer rides in alongside Nina is full of twists, backstabbings, friends-turned-foes, and vice-versa. That’s what makes “Cinderella Step” such a lovely ED; it’s a dreamy take on the old Cinderella tale where everyone forgets their worries, affiliations, and motives, and simply has fun dancing the night away. Seeing your favorite characters eschewing their rough circumstances and dancing like goofballs is a joy, and the bittersweet end to the season makes it that much more impactful.

3. “Dou Kangaete mo Watashi wa Warukunai”–Yuu-chan (WataMote: No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, Ending 1)


The visceral relatability of WataMote has touched the hearts of millions of once-high-schoolers over the years. While the anime’s OP is a sonic culmination of Tomoko’s feelings of rebellion and frustration, the ED is much more pleasant of a listen. Both struggle with themes of acceptance and self-doubt, however, with the conversation between her and her mirror (version with english lyrics here) being especially heartbreaking when you sit back and think over where those feelings are coming from. The idea to set all of this to a sequence of Tomoko walking herself through her daily routine via smartphones is rather unique, and was executed perfectly.

2. “Veil”–Keina Suda (Fire Force, Ending)


“Veil” is likely the best (and saddest) ED of the Summer 2019 season. The carefree depictions of Iris’ fellow sisters-in-training are reminiscent of the Little Witch Academia ED mentioned earlier, and makes their fates that much more tragic. It’s nonetheless impressive just how well this ED is able to tell an entire backstory, truncated as it may be. And while there’s no brushing off just how horrible the events illustrated here are, the last scene of Iris readying herself while surrounded by her team does a satisfying job of providing a sense of closure for the viewer.

1. “Hunting for Your Dream”–Galneryus (Hunter x Hunter 2011, Ending 2)


Have you ever come across an opening or ending to an anime and instantly knew that it was one of the best you’d ever seen in your life? That was my reaction when I first saw “Hunting for Your Dream.” It’s the exact type of ED that every shonen anime needs; it reminds you of everyone’s goals, portrays all the antagonists in a boss-like, revered fashion, and just plain gets you pumped for the next episode with kick-ass tunes and exceptional sequencing. The way every episode in the season leads into it creates a supreme feeling of anticipation and excitement, as well. Click here to treat yourself to a typical ending to an episode with this theme.

Videos were uploaded courtesy of the /r/AnimeThemes community 

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Fantasia 2019: ‘Promare’ Feels Like the Younger Brother of ‘Gurren Lagann’



Gurren Lagann is a cult classic directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and written by Kazuki Nakashima. It has over-the-top action, constant bravado, quotable lines, and non-stop escalation into madness. Subtly is not a common word used in Imaishi and Nakashima’s vocabulary, and luckily, fans of their work will not be disappointed with their newest animated movie, Promare. Hot-headedness (literal and metaphorical) and grandiose speeches are rampant when Promare kicks logic to the curb and goes beyond the impossible in its own unique way. What it lacks in a cohesive story, it makes up for in elaborate visuals, eye-popping action, and charismatic characters.

No matter how many times Spider-Man or Superman saves someone from a burning building, the real heroes are the firefighters; they are the ones on the ground, first on the scene. In the world of Promare, firefighters are not just stopping regular old fires; they are tasked with extinguishing supernatural infernos caused by the Burnish — humans mutated to become pyrokinetics. Called the Burning Rescue, they heroically save any and every civilian threatened by these eternal flames, doing so with advanced gear, amped-up water cannons, and hand to hand combat. In addition, they have high-tech equipment that includes drones, an armory of ice and water-powered firearms, and numerous models of mech suits.

These heroes are tasked to stop the flaming terrorists and the havoc they wreak, and in the first act of Promare, a Burning Rescue team led by a young man named Galo take on one of the most feared Burnish terrorists. They use their pyrokinesis to give themselves black, spiky armour and motorcycles that would make Ghost Rider jealous, and after a rousing success with eleventh-hour powers, Galo floats in his victory. Soon, the more militaristic, anti-Burnish organization called Freeze Force barges in and detains the Burnish, taking some of the credit and diminishing Burning Rescue’s efforts. This testosterone-driven act kindles a small spark in the back of Galo’s head, later pushing him to discover a conspiracy that suggests not all is as it appears to be.

Galo is essentially a carbon copy of Kamina from Gurren Lagann. He’s a shirtless, blue-haired, brash young man who jumps in head first to save everyone, and makes sure he looks cool doing it every time. His peers and rivals mock his intelligence and audacity, but in a rare twist, Galo immediately proves that his not simply all bark; he is also a talented rescuer, and is able to stop multiple Burnish solo. Eventually, he develops a rival with Lio, a blonde-haired, light-eyed, somewhat effeminate villain with his own code of honour. He also runs across Kray Foresight, the governor, who is appreciative of Burning Rescue and all their work. However, though Burning Rescue is comprised of many equally talented members, they are mostly pushed to the background outside of being given a few moments to shine.  

Promare takes advantage of new animation styles, and combines both hand-drawn and computer-animated designs. The vapourwave art style is bombastic and chaotic, while the angular designs of the Burnish’s powers add a little edge to the action scenes, guaranteeing that there is no wasted space on screen. The movie runs from inferno-hot to sub-zero cold with no in-between; one would expect nothing less from Imaishi and Nakashima.

Walking into this film and expecting some kind of subtly, even when it comes to the most mundane of actions, is expecting far too much. In classic fashion, the filmmakers keep making every scene more grandiose and epic. Fight scenes aren’t simply adding an extra bad guy or giving the hero a handicap; everything grows to an exponential scale. The moment you expect that Promare has reached its limit, suddenly everything goes to the extreme. But this does has its disadvantages, as subtly and clear explanations of events go by the wayside. The plot moves fast and glosses over the details of the world, history, and lore. Instead of questioning “why is this weird thing happening,” it’s better to accept that it’s happening simply “just because” — far better to just watch the bonker visuals and series of events. This pacing also makes it difficult for character growth, where relationships are created and destroyed on a whim, yet could have benefited more with extra content. It’s like the difference between the Gurren Lagann series and the movies. Sure, the movies cover a lot of ground, but they are very much more loud, operatic spectacles rather than the growing confidence of a young shy boy into a full-fledged legend.

Promare is certainly a movie that stimulates the lizard-brain neurons. It’s flashy, over the top, and outright ridiculous. The heroes and villains are operatic, and there is no nuance stored anywhere in the character’s development. But that’s why the movie is wonderful; the creators are able to depict these extreme levels of silliness, then lampoon and expand on it. There are even moments where the characters themselves have to acknowledge that this level of weirdness is actually happening. But that’s why this movie is spectacular — it’s loud, it’s big, but it’s 100% unfiltered fun.

The Fantasia Film Festival runs July 11 – August 1. Visit the official website for more information.

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Fantasia 2019 Dispatch: ‘White Snake’ and ‘The Relative Worlds’



White Snake

While relatively unknown in the west, the “Legend of the White Snake” is one of the oldest and most venerated folks tales in China, and as such has been brought to the screen and stage numerous times. After all, fables and folktales have proved themselves to be enduring and adaptable enough that the real classics will probably never truly fade from the cultural landscape. Light Chaser Animation’s new telling of the story certainly jazzes it up for modern audiences, with dazzling animation and some modern sensibilities added to the tried-and-true romantic melodrama and high fantasy. While definitively rooted in Chinese myth and legends, the film also seems to be aiming for an international audience, and will most likely succeed in this ambition.

In ancient China, a cruel general versed in the dark arts has begun stealing the life force of snakes in order to aid in the Emperor’s bid for immortality. An assassin is sent in the form of the white snake, Blanca, who like many of her more powerful clan is able to take human form. Blanca’s assassination attempt fails, and she loses her memory in the process. Found by the inhabitants of a village of snake catchers, she soon falls in love with the dashing young Xuan, only to have her former life come back to haunt her.

White Snake

The main draw for White Snake is the visuals, which are beautifully rendered and absolutely dazzling from start to finish. While the art direction and character designs occasionally evoke North American animation, the vast majority of the film’s aesthetic feels refreshingly unique. While not overly stylized, there’s a painterly quality to the backdrops and locales, with a deliberate use of color and an emphasis on stunning vistas. Creative visual gags abound, like the face-switching demon blacksmith or the spectacular magical battles, which eventually escalate into dizzying fights between giant serpents and legions of warriors made of living, folded paper. 

Some of the film’s attempts at humor fall a tad flat, however, particularly when Xuan’s loyal canine sidekick is given the gift of speech for no discernible reason. Parents looking for a fun alternative to the latest Dreamworks or Pixar movie might also get nervous at some of the more risque suggestions, like a near-sex scene or the demon weapon smith’s perilously plunging neckline. But overall, the film is a fun and visually captivating ride which proves that CG animation isn’t just for the West.

The Relative Worlds

Our protagonists sit in a comfortably but blandly decorated living room discussing mass murder. Among them are two alternate-universe doppelgangers and a pair of advanced combat robots that (naturally) look like 13-year-old girls. It’s been determined that an alternate Earth can be saved from despotic rule, and all it will take is a few murders here in our world. “Maybe we should get some food” suggests one character. “Yes, we do not require food, but are capable of expelling waste” responds one of the robots. An upbeat pop tune creeps into the soundtrack, and a montage of our heroes out on the town begins — now that we’re safe in the knowledge that the robots can indeed poop. This scene really encapsulates everything weird and disjointed about The Relative Worlds, an ungainly wreck of a movie with tonal and pacing problems to spare, and little to offer anime fans or filmgoers on the whole.

The action begins (as these things often do) with a pair of ordinary high-schoolers. A rash of unexplained deaths has begun to plague Japan, and the two discover the truth after doppelgangers and robots invade their burgeoning romance: an alternate version of Earth came into existence after World War I, they learn, and on that Earth the shy Kotori is a cruel despot. Jin, the alternate version of her classmate and love interest, Shin, has hopped from one reality to the other to kill Kotori, which will cause her opposite in his own universe to die as well. To counter Jin’s powerful and imposing combat robot, Kotori’s other-universe counterpart has sent her a protector: the diminutive android, Miko.

Relative Worlds

The Relative Worlds suffers from the odd problem of having too much story, but at the same time being almost maddeningly simplistic. Before the audience can get too confused, a helpful narrator makes his one and only appearance to meticulously outline the premise in exacting detail. Not long after, new information drastically changes the stakes and goals of the movie, in just one of many sudden gear shifts sure to leave audiences with mild whiplash. The film never settles on one set of objectives long enough for audiences to get comfortable, and it feels like a much longer, multi-arc story has been brutally condensed into a cramped 90-odd minutes. The tone veers about wildly, and seemingly important plot elements drop in and out like unwanted guests. In its few moments of clarity, it also mostly walks in the footsteps of films and series that came before, never offering any characters or story beats that won’t feel familiar to anime fans.

While some of the art direction is at least mildly interesting, The Relative Worlds is nonetheless an absolute mess of storytelling missteps that casual audiences will find too weird, and anime fans will mostly likely find derivative and awkward.

The Fantasia Film Festival runs July 11 – August 1. Visit the official website for more information.

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